The Middle East

Probably the simplest way to show my dilemma is on a map. Every route I tried from Turkey turned out to be a stone wall. I tried to enter Iran -- no way. Tried Iraq -- refused entry at the border. Georgia and Armenia -- nope. I had already tried around the Black Sea to the north (described in the book.)
The only country that allowed me entry was Syria. So . . . I decided to head south through Syria, hoping to find a way east as I went.
Big mistake.
Here are the last of the mountains of central Turkey. The sign says, "Stones fall down 5 km from here," in three languages.
Coming out of the mountains and looking down upon Syria, toward the Red Sea.
With the road steadily descending toward the Mediterranian, it took me no time to reach the Syrian border, then Damascus, where I checked into a hotel and began visiting embassies in search of permission to head east.
The Syrian "election" was in full swing -- nothing but a bunch of Assad cronies marching up and down the street. I asked one bystander if anyone ever protested against Assad. "Be careful what you say!" he told me, and rushed away.
I snapped a few photographs then mailed my pictures home from Damascus. And those are the last photos that survived the Middle East. Because . . .  I was taken prisoner by the Syrian Mukhabarat (Secret Police) and they confiscated my camera.